Saturday, April 16, 2016

Final Reflections: Michael Stevens

My Self-directed Learning

This past semester was my last as an undergraduate student at BYU. I'm graduating in less than a week and it's pretty surreal. I couldn't have asked for a better course to have been a part of my final undergrad semester because of the self-directed learning portion of this class. At first I played it safe, only venturing onto the internet to count as research time. Soon enough, however, I realized I had a unique opportunity to craft my own education in a profound way.

I first explored the BYU Museum of Art to look at 16th century woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer, showing the strong presence of religious authority all the way until the Enlightenment Era and the Industrial Revolution. On occasions I spent several hours in the BYU Store reading books, such as "Smithsonian's History of the World 1000 Objects," "A Very Short Introduction: Socialism," and "A History of the Twentieth Century in 100 Maps." 

Besides reading, I visited various galleries in the Special Collections section of the Harold B. Lee Library. The Rose Marie Reid gallery in particular taught me a great deal about women's rights, the topic I wrote my personal project on. I attribute in large part my initial interest to the topic of feminism, womanhood, and social change on my experience in this gallery. The process of going beyond what we would normally look at for the sake of education proved invaluable in this moment. If you want to learn more about what I did in my self-directed learning, click here.

My Evolving Project

As I began to lean towards the topic of feminism and womanhood after viewing this gallery, I needed to figure out how I could relate it to the overarching theme of critical communications in the digital age. When I posted my first attempt at this, I received both encouraging feedback and constructive criticism from many of my classmates. One in particular, Jason Peterson, left me with more than just praise or criticism, but new ideas. His comments introduced several new elements to my argument that I had never thought about, adding more nuance and complexity to my topic. 

Similarly, in a later post I put up I received an excellent comment from Kotahi Tarawhiti, inviting me to think about incorporating the topics of the other members of my digital society group. This idea, simple as it was, turned out to be exactly what my post needed for it to be cohesive and complete. The final product of my post represents the culmination of a great deal of research, drafting, scrapping not-so-good ideas, hearing feedback, and rewriting. All in all I am indebted to my two group partners, Chloe and Alec, for their contributions and feedback they gave to me in class and on my posts. As we put all three of our ideas together, we were able to create our final product, which I am very proud of. It's not perfect, but it is a good representation of our hard work.

Communication and History

During the 18th century the world raged with revolution and hunger for freedom. The American Revolutionary War, the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution - people were seeking independence from oppressive regimes and powers. Revolutionaries were not always found with sword or musket in hand, but, more often, the people who made the greatest difference in these conflicts were those who used their words to communicate their desires. The Declaration of Independence was a form of communication that was written so that there would be no question as to what our budding country was demanding: independence. 

Communication has been crucial for the founding fathers of our modern country, and it continues to be an essential part of our lives. Despite living in the 21st century, there still are injustices and breaches of conduct all around us. The best way for these atrocities to be remedied is through communication. The digital society we live in has given us new forms of digital communication so that the voiceless can be heard, the powerless can plug in, and the oppressed can rip through repression. 

Communication is just as important today to us as it was for the revolutionaries who wrote and fought to make this nation into what it is today. Understanding the history of the world has helped me more fully understand how easy it can be to take the right and ability to be heard for granted. People had to work for an audience; nowadays we can go onto our devices and have access to the attention of thousands of people with the press of a button. We would all do well to remember what it took to have the right and ability to communicate like we do today, and history is the way we can do it.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so pleased the self-directed learning paid off for you and played into your final project well.